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Minnesota Wild are ridiculously dominating foes on home ice

Wild jump back in series, top Hawks 4-0 in Game 3
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Minnesota Wild fans cheer during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks in St. Paul, Minn., Tuesday, May 6, 2014. The Wild won 4-0. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

The biggest victory of the Minnesota Wild’s postseason came on the road at the Colorado Avalanche: 5-4 in overtime in Game 7, winning a playoff round for the first time since 2003.

But the story of the Wild’s postseason has been home cookin’.

Minnesota is 4-0 at Xcel Energy Center after their Game 3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Not only that, but they’re essentially a different team on home ice: They’ve given up four goals in four home games, and 26 goals in six road games. The difference is … well, wild. (rimshot)

It extends to the players. Zach Parise on the road: 5 points in six games; at home, 8 points in 4 games, including three goals. Mikael Granlund has 2 assists in six road games; he has 4 goals and an assist in four home games, and so on.

They were good at home in the regular season too, giving up 88 goals, the fifth fewest in the NHL for home teams. They also scored 19 more goals at home than on the road this year.

Here’s the snapshot of the Wild at home and on the road in the playoffs.

Keep in mind that the Wild played three overtime games in Colorado, and just one overtime game in St. Paul. Also keep in mind that pathetic 12-shot effort from the Avalanche in Game 6 really skews the numbers a bit.

(Thru 4 Home Playoff Games)

WILD

OPPONENT

Goals scored

12

4

Goals against

4

12

Shots on goal (avg)

29.75

19.0

Shot attempts (avg)

58.5

42.0

And away …

(Thru 6 Road Playoff Games)

WILD

OPPONENT

Goals Scored

17

26

Goals Against

26

17

Shots on goal (avg)

30.5

26.3

Shot attempts (avg)

61.5

52.2

Obviously the first big difference is the last line change.

The Chicago Blackhawks shut down the Wild’s top two lines in Games 1 and 2. In Game 3, Parise, Granlund and Jason Pominville had two-point nights when Coach Mike Yeo had the final personnel swaps.

As Parise and Ryan Suter told the Sun-Times before Game 3:

“It makes a difference, yeah,” Parise said. “I think that’s why you see throughout the playoffs, a lot of the home teams have been so successful this year. But either way, regardless of who you’re playing against, as a group we all have to be better individually.”

… “It definitely makes a difference,” Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. “There’s a lot of good players on their team. We have a lot of good players, too. I think it’ll be a good thing for us, and hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”

The double-digit advantage in shots on goal and shot attempts speak to dominating play on both ends of the ice at home, as the Wild protect their goalie better at home. Overall, they’re the second-best possession team at even strength in the playoffs behind Pittsburgh.

But there’s something else at play here that’s tougher to quantify: Desperation.

The Wild have gone done 0-2 in two straight playoff series, only to roar back to win Game 3. The Game 6 victory at home came facing elimination. Ditto the Game 7 win in Colorado.

Last line change plus stronger defense plus survival instinct. A good equation for Minny.

Game 4 against the Blackhawks on Friday night gives the Wild a chance to even this series. Playing at home gives the Wild a better than decent chance of accomplishing that feat.

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